by Jen Farlin

While my husband was at the U.S. Army War College I attended FLAGS–Facilitating, Leadership and Group Skills. It’s a one-week workshop for milispouses to refine skills in leading, guiding, and supporting work in groups utilizing our strengths. It was also known as the week where Mom went to work and Dad had to get the kids everywhere and take care of everything.

While I was there we were told that we, metaphorically speaking, get 10 pennies each day to use how we wish. How we spend them is up to us. When the pennies are spent we are operating at a deficit–read We should leave mom alone right now.

Pennies are to patience what calories are to food.

These all cost at least one penny:

Don’t eat that off of the floor!

Where are all the couch cushions?

Don’t lock your brother in the garage!

Look where you are peeing!

You can have a favorite shirt but not a favorite pair of underwear!

Leave his butt alone!

Please don’t carry the dog on your head!

Go find your shoes!

Go find your goggles!

I don’t know where your shoes are!

I don’t know where your goggles are!

If I get up and make beds, tidy the house, make breakfast, clean up the kitchen, walk the dog, start a load of laundry, and clean the pee from all the toilets, while yelling all the things above plus the obvious hygiene related ones–it is then lunch time. So then I make lunch, clean up the kitchen, walk the dog, yell some more, and it is time to get them out of the house. Then we come home and I make dinner, I yell more about random things concerning goggles, forks, and lost shoes, walk the dog, and clean up the house–and now, maybe, I have 2 pennies left. One? None?

I’m exhausted so I think I am operating on a deficit. Summer equals little boys all day equals inflation for pennies.

I think the value of each of my pennies is dependent upon outside forces similar to the dollar and the global markets and inflation and all that–so my pennies are looking like a hay penny, or a half penny, or a plastic fake penny.

I’ve been sick for about a week. I don’t know to equate the exhaustion to just that though–summer marathon vacation, children, coughing propped up on pillows with 12 cough drops shoved in my cheeks, children, non stop activities, bad attitudes, outnumbered by boys, life complexities–and by that I mean what happened to all of our forks? children, and/or how is the kitchen trashed again–all could be contributing to the decline in the penny.

In a good market, or school day, I could probably get that above paragraph done in about 6 pennies leaving pennies left over for me. Today, during summer, it’s probably 17 pennies. Lately, though, I’m wondering what a normal day is? Go! Go! Go! Hurry! Go! Go! Stop trying to tape your brother to the wall! Hurry! Go! Where are all the forks!???!!

The lesson in the pennies is that we need to guard them, not waste them. Saying yes, when we want to say no, and unrealistic expectations are two of the biggest spenders that come to mind. Why do I think the house and the boys will effortlessly take care of themselves? And why does my 7 year old have to yell when he is 2 inches from me? Totally unrelated, but a question I still have.

Short of looking under the couch cushions for more pennies I’m thinking I’m just in debt, of course the couch cushions are currently missing so there’s that.


Jennifer is a military spouse and Mom to two little boys.  She is imported from Detroit and a graduate from Michigan State University.  She believes in paying it forward—spread joy and be a positive vibe.   Jennifer can be found at Bella Home Staging